When I started at the SPH last year, I could not believe the amount of group work I was assigned. An independent thinker, I struggled initially with the balancing act of classes, extracurricular activities, work, and group projects. Somewhere along the line though, I started to appreciate the value of working with other people – that is, after all, the reality of public health! Something else I started to appreciate was the ability to turn every project into something of my own.
This semester I wanted to expand my knowledge of community organizing, and enrolled in a course through the School of Social Work, called Women and Community Organizing. The group project for this class was simple: organize any group of people for a cause important or relevant to women. Naturally, I wanted to relate this project to public health. I teamed up with a social work student and we decided to launch a Michigan coalition of Our Campus, Our Coverage, a national campaign through the organization where I interned last summer that aims to bring knowledge of health care reform to women on college campuses.
The collaborative nature of the School of Public Health, as well as the University of Michigan as a whole, allowed us to bring in many student organizations to work together on this campaign: representatives from the public health groups Women in Health Leadership and the Maternal Child Health Student Association, the School of Social Work Dean’s Initiative on TBLG Matters, and the undergraduate chapter of Students for Choice joined together to make this initiative a success.
We had almost 50 people turn out for the event, and were joined by guest speaker Lauren Bacans, a field organizer for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan. Our efforts even got written about in the Michigan Daily and we’re continuing to plan more events for the future. The ability to follow your passions and translate them into your academic work is something I truly value about Michigan, and my experience with this group project really helped me to see that in action.
As part of our future efforts, we’re launching a Twitter campaign to keep UM students in the loop about health care reform, especially as it relates to women. Be sure to follow us and tweet us reasons why health care matters to you with #ourcoverageUM!